In session two last week, we covered the following:

Topic: The Nitty Gritty of Technical Talks

    • o Demo-ing with code
    • o Useful tools for technical demos/presentations
    • o Things everyone hates
    • o Failure recovery
    • o Your failsafe list

I wanted to post a few references in case they might be useful to others. 

Everyone’s list is different, and that’s fine.  Tailor your list to the types of presentations you do/want to do as well as things you know make you crazy or stressed.

General Planning:

    • Who is the audience: Technical vs. Non-technical, breadth vs. depth, beginner vs. advanced.
    • Build & test your demos.
    • Test demos in a variety of conditions like no network, low battery, stressed OS.
    • Check to make sure no applications are going to reboot or download fixes in the middle of your talk.
    • Go over your slides enough so that you’re adding value to them, not reading them.
    • Get familiar with your presentation application whether it’s PowerPoint, KeyNote, PDF, StandOut, etc. so that you know how to get a view that shows you time elapsed and speaker notes if possible.
    • Get comfortable with your slide transitions, stories, and transitions into coding and demos.
    • Practice with a mic + audio recording (good) and a video camera (better).
    • Practice with a mirror (goood), a friend (better) and a group of friends (best!)
    • Watch & listen to those audio & video recordings.
    • Have a solution for no wireless access.
    • If demoing code, use snippets or have a backup txt file on your desktop just in case.
    • Send your slides to yourself via e-mail and/or share them on a server somewhere you can access from the venue just in case.

    Ask the organizer:

  • For the venue directions including room name or number.
  • For a contact phone number.
  • Will there be mics?
  • Will there be an overhead projector?
  • Is anyone filming or taking pictures?
  • Do they need your slides ahead of time?

Before Leaving for the Venue:

Do you have:

    • Laptop
    • Backup laptop if needed (or a friend at the venue with a backup just in case)
    • Power cable[s]
    • Adaptors for plugs if needed
    • A USB key with your slides (in multiple formats if appropriate)
    • A watch, timer or phone to keep your eye on the time
    • Pointer mouse/clicker/remote control if you use one
    • Camera if you want photos taken
    • Video camera if you want video taken + tripod
    • USB modem/mini USB cable + phone or other backup wireless solution
    • Extra batteries
    • Chewing gum
    • Any toiletries you may want (makeup, deoderant, etc.)
    • Cab fare / Spare cash (Hey I have everything on my list)
    • Other devices you may need (portable hard drive, xbox controller, robots, web cam, etc.)

Arrival at the Venue:

    • Check your mic
    • Check the overhead projector & connections
    • Check the venue laptop if appropriate
    • Don’t drink things like coffee/tea/soda/beer or anything else that makes you talk funny
    • Ask for water on stage if you’ll need it


Alexia put up a great post on her blog with links and embedded videos to some of the folks mentioned.  The post is here and it’s excellent.

Other people to watch and websites to visit for ideas on great speaking techniques:

Anything I missed?  Please leave it in the comments for others.  I know I have a couple of other things to add when I get my demo laptop back up & running. 🙂

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One Response

  1. Rasmuw Hill on 26 Mar 2009

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